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OIX contests idea of government run digital IDs


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Nick Mothershaw
Nick Mothershaw
Image source: Open Identity Exchange

The Open Identity Exchange (OIX) has come out against government running a system for single digital identities for citizens, instead favouring the certification of IDs generated by the private sector.

The membership organisation that focuses on the issue has responded to the proposal by the Tony Blair Institute that government should manage a decentralised digital ID system.

It has issued a statement from its chief strategist, Nick Mothershaw, that approves of the decentralised model as it avoids the creation of a national database or the use of a national identity card.

But he added: “Digital IDs are complex; to be useful they need to carry both public and private sector credentials and allow ‘smart’ use of these. Governments are unlikely to create a smart digital IDs that will fulfil all the user’s needs, as many of these needs are in the private sector.”

Discomfort factor

He said these would be unlikely to allow the user to gather and share a wide range of private sector credentials, and even if they did many users would be uncomfortable hosting them in a government issued ID, regardless of its distributed nature.

They would also be unlikely to be able to process complex rules from acceptors of the IDs.

"In our view, government should focus on issuing user managed ID proofs into certified private sector smart digital IDs, or wallets, Mothershaw said. “This will allow the private sector to provide users innovative smart digital ID services that blend trusted ID proofs from government, with public and private sector credentials."  

The Cabinet Office has in the past been a member of OIX, and the organisation worked on the possible local government applications of the ill fated GOV.UK Verify platform for online identity assurance. Mothershaw has previously told UKAuthority that they have maintained a positive dialogue.



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